Last night, I used the flight ability of the Talaria's Wings to fly above the island and check it.
I realized one very disappointing fact.
This island was quite huge.
From the west end to the east end, it would have taken a whole day to walk across. It was that big.
Also, the island was full of people on the ground.
Day and night, the people didn’t go to sleep.
As if they had gone insane, the people played and played, as if they had really gone mad.
[Round 18, Day 2, 07:30]
This is the second day since I entered the 18th Floor stage.
I sat on the rooftop as soon as the morning came and started to check the street.
The view was not so different from the day before.
The people were playing around loudly since the morning.
They were dancing with bright smiles like little children. However, for some odd reason, watching them only frustrated me.
At a glance, the whole thing looks like just a glimpse of a great festival.
However, for some reason, they were very strange.
They were all too kind, like a page out of a fairytale.
Am I overthinking this?
Otherwise, could it be that my personality developed a problem?
I knew I could not say no to such questions. That made me feel even more uneasy.
Of the countless people on the street, I saw a middle-aged man. He caught my eyes.
He was not the target.
He was not anyone unique or special either.
He was just a middle-aged uncle with a fat belly.
To explain why he caught my eyes… He was incredibly horrible at dancing.
It was very obvious that he had no talent for rhythm. The way he stumbled around looked unsightly. However, he was dancing harder than anyone.
Also, other people applauded the man and danced next to him.
What a great picture to watch.
On the street, in the faces of everyone, there was no anxiety, panic or frustration. There were no such gloomy faces.
It is surprising.
Since yesterday, I spent whole days sitting at the rooftop observing the people.
However, of all people who I observed from here so far, there wasn’t anyone who was not happy.
They were all kind, enthusiastic and cordiality.
It is truly surprising.
It appeared that they were all born for the purpose of being happy and smiling.
The street was busy, so a lot of people fell over from waves of other people.
However, when people did fall, the others smiled, helped to get back up and consoled them.
After that, the people who just fell and got up were overcome by the good gestures of the others and thanked them.
Other people who were watching this also looked very happy to see their interactions, and conveyed their honest feelings.
Like that, they had conversations and grew close.
The people became friends like that and went somewhere to dance.
Seriously, they were kind-hearted scenes to watch.
The fact that I was finding them strange made me question myself if I was suffering from a shattered personality.
However, I can say this with certainty.
This island is too peaceful. It is unrealistic.
Everyone was innocent and honest.
However, the world and the humans could not be like this.
Something is odd.
Like that, as I watched the people from the roof top, frustration slowly swelled up inside me.
These strangers were all completely empathetic to another and getting along. However, I could not be empathetic to their behaviors, and it felt like this was reaffirming the wall between myself and these other people.
It felt uncomfortable.
[Round 18, Day 2, 11:50]
I had been chewing on meat jerkies for lunch, and I realized a critically important fact.
Because everyone was dancing on the street, I thought this Grand Paramal Festival was a parade-like festival that involved lots of dancing.
I thought it meant everyone was out on the street to enjoy it.
However, when I used mana to look inside a building through windows, I came to realize that I was wrong.
People were playing not just on the street, but also inside buildings.
Not only do I have to observe the street by sitting on the rooftop, I also have to observe the people inside buildings.
This fact alone substantially increased the difficulty of the mission, which was finding the target.
I agonized over what to do from now on. In the end, I had no choice to make a haphazard compromise.
I’ll spend a day observing the street while sitting on the roof. I’ll spend the next day going inside random buildings.
Next day, I’ll go back to observe the street.
I decided to repeat this cycle.
I’ll observe the streets on the even numbered days, and I’ll observe the insides of buildings on odd numbered days.
I didn’t know if this was an efficient method. However, I could not think of a better way.
* * *
[Round 18, Day 2, 06:05]
It was late evening.
I was thinking about bringing out yet another meat jerky. However, instead, I headed to a café that I found during the day.
By sitting at the second-floor terrace of the café, I could have a quick meal while observing the street.
In addition, I could check the people inside the café.
Fortunately, as soon as I entered the café, the waiter led me to the second-floor terrace before I said anything.
There were quite a lot of people at the café.
I learned that there were also a lot of people who were enjoying the festivity by sitting and chatting instead of dancing on the streets.
I sat at the second-floor terrace and checked the menu.
First, I pointed at a picture of bread and ordered it.
The menu didn’t have any drinks.
The waiter didn’t say anything about drinks. He just left with the menu.
I could just bring out water from the inventory, so it doesn’t matter, but still…
As I waited for the bread, I checked the inside of the café.
I didn’t see anyone who appeared to be the target.
I was looking down the street beyond the terrace. While I was at it, a waitress brought me the bread.
It was not the same waiter from earlier. This time, it was a waitress.
Along with the bread, she brought a glass of drink.
I told her that I didn’t order any drink. She said the drink comes with meals no matter what.
It seemed she noticed that I was finding it surprising. She said,
“It looks like you just arrived at the island today?”
I wonder why she thought that.
I told her that I arrived yesterday.
“Ah, so you are a foreigner. In addition, you don’t know anything about this island’s festival. You should have come after learning a bit about the AoAeo Island.”
The tone of her voice was that of someone who was lecturing a tourist who was lacking in preparations.
This didn’t lessen my curiosity though.
“How did you know I was a foreigner?”
The waitress covered her mouth and smiled.
Instead of telling me right away, she was smiling. That annoyed me. However, I sensed no malicious intent in the waitress’s face.
“Try this drink. You will know.”
I could sense a mysterious pride and expectations in her face.
Could it be that they are that proud of this drink?
“Just what is that drink?”
“Paramal. This drink’s name is Paramal. It is a drink for wishing world peace.”
The waitress left after that.
They said that the name of the festival taking place in this island was called Grand Paramal.
That means this drink is the core of the festivities.
I thought the festival’s goals were recklessly indulging in dance or sex. However, it seemed the festival was for advertising this drink that was the specialty of this region.
First, I tried out a bit of the bread that was served.
It was delicious.
It tastes like sweet red beans.
Next is the drink.
It is blue, luminescent drink.
I cast a shadow on it with my hand, and I was able to confirm that the drink was faintly luminescent.
There is a need to seriously think about if I should drink this or not.
It wasn’t that I was simply curious if a luminescent drink was harmful to a human body.
The strangeness I felt from everyone in the AoAeo island…
Also, this is the special drink that everyone is enjoying…
I have plenty of reasons to be suspicious of this.
I personally think this drink is a narcotic of some sort.
I have never heard of narcotics that make people happy and positive. However, narcotics that make people enthusiastic and fun loving might be able to bring out similar results.
Perhaps the drink has something magical.
The problem is this.
Do I need to try the drink to resolve my curiosity?
I am confident about poisons.
I have the great poison resistance.
I have resistance against magic as well.
I don’t think it would be enough, but I won’t have a big problem as long as it is a small amount.
I thought those and tried drinking it by poking it with my tongue first.
It tastes delicious.
It was sweet.
It tastes like molten ice cream.
I tried taking a sip.
It was not poison.
There was no abnormal response from my body for consuming it.
However, for some mysterious reason, it felt like I was feeling a little better.
Other than feeling a little better, the drink didn’t have any other effect in particular. Let’s check it out some more.
That day, I tried three sips of the Paramal.
* * *
[Round 18, Day 4, 09:00]
I went to the café right on time of its opening.
Compared to the rooftop, I think the terrace is better for observing the street.
“Welcome, Ho. Bread again today?”
It was Hyang, the waitress I met yesterday.
‘Hyang’ was her name.
Strangely, everyone in this island had a single-syllable name.
Also, even the foreigners introduced themselves with a single-syllable name.
Are these stage names for everyone like masks on a masked banquet?
I found it interesting.
I introduced myself as ‘Ho.’
Hyang said that my name was unique. She smiled.
I told her that I found her name to be even more unique.
Hyang explained that my name was rare but a great name.
Is that so?
She said she found it amusing that it was similar to her own name.
I asked what it was. She said that my name sounded like her family member’s name.
I spent the whole day sitting at the café and observing the street. However, I was not able to find the target.
I didn’t do anything in particular while observing, so I wasted a lot of time. Still, it was not boring.
It was quite fun observing the people and checking out how they enjoyed the festival.
Like the second day, Hyang came to be my conversational partner whenever she could.
That day, I drank almost all of a glass of Paramal.
* * *
[Round 18, Day 5, 03:40]
It was the fifth day. The dance of madness on the street started to quiet down.
The festival continued for a long time. Could it be that people are getting physically exhausted?
Now, instead of spending whole day dancing, people started to hang out with others whom they became close with.
Also, they became close with others, spent time with them, and then became close with some other people.
There were fewer people dancing on the street. However, it was still bizarre to watch.
Today was odd-numbered day. It was the day for me to search insides of buildings.
I checked out buildings that I didn’t get to enter during the third day.
No building barred anyone from entering.
In fact, even private residences of island people allowed people in after just ringing the door bells.
I visited Mr. Gong’s home. Actually, this was by a mistake.
His home looked more like a workshop.
It was an unexpected visit due to a misunderstanding. However, having heard the bell, Mr. Gong welcomed me.
It was as if an old friend visited him for the first time in 10 years.
I could not let him know that I rang the bell without realizing that this was his private residence.
At the door, I spent a long time talking to Mr. Gong.
I never knew I was such a great conversationalist.
Mr. Gong invited me in. We continued our chatter at the living room.
I wanted to eventually leave and check other buildings. However, Mr. Gong wanted to have a meal with me.
In the end, I was not able to refuse his invitation. I ended up wasting quite a long time here, much more than I thought.
However, we enjoyed the meal.
Mr. Gong’s family members were all kind.
The food was delicious as well.
Lately, I didn’t have much of an appetite, so I had been eating meat jerkies or simple breads to handle meals.
After the dinner, Mr. Gong’s daughter, ‘Gang’ said she wanted to go out and play with me.
It was unfortunate, but I had no choice but to say no.
I found a casino and a bar.
I decided to search places like these during the night on both odd and even numbered days.
At the bar, they mixed the Paramal with alcoholic beverages to make cocktails.
This day, I drank three glasses of Paramal.
* * *
[Round 18, Day 8, 11:20]
I arrived at the café a little late because I was greeting the people I had become close with.
As soon as I opened the café door and entered, I could hear people greeting me and greeting me with good mornings.
I said hello back to each and everyone individually.
I knew them all. They were also all good people who I was close with.
“Ho, how about coming along with me today again? I’m going to the outdoor swimming place next to the Lion Water Fountain.”
Chun and Chin, the brothers, who were eating their breakfast at a corner of the café, said to me.
Every morning, they took care of breakfast at the café and headed out to the street to play.
I apologized and went past them.
They joked around from behind, so I turned to wave my hand at them.
“Let’s definitely go there together before the festival ends!”
They were recommending the place to me to the end. I told them I got it and sat down.
It was the seat at the window on the terrace. Now, it had become my designated seat.
“Ho! Instead of sitting there by yourself, come here and join me. I’ll treat you for the morning.”
Myoung, who was sitting at a sofa, made the suggestion.
Myoung was a foreigner who came to visit the AoAeo island.
“I’m sorry, Myoung. I like this seat by the window.”
Myoung didn’t move to the window seat.
Myoung knew that I had something that I had to do by myself. No, he felt it.
I was thankful for the consideration.
I expressed my gratitude.
It seemed Myoung was overcome by my expression of gratitude. He rubbed his nose and told me honestly that he was feeling that way.
I was surprised by his honest confession, and it also felt great to hear it.
Myoung was happy again because I was feeling happy.
It was a kind of mental resonance.
I sat by the window. I could feel warm satisfaction.
It was not a pretend-sensation.
I felt the emptiness inside me getting filled.
The emotion was possible because of a miracle called Paramal.
In the past few days, I drank Paramal little by little and tried to figure out what kind of effect the drink had.
First, Paramal was not an addictive narcotic.
Next, Paramal was not some substance that influenced one’s mental state.
I was not able to confirm yet if it was a type of magical potion.
I have not identified its true nature yet, but I now had a rough idea as to what kind of effects the Paramal had.
This drink connected people.
It allowed the people to share their emotions and feelings.
Being able to feel others’ emotions was closer to a disaster than a blessing.
The idea of being able to look under the mask that people wear is awkward and unpleasant, because the insides of most people were not all that clean.
However, it is different in this island.
The people of AoAeo island were pure, kind and honest.
In addition, they were enthusiastic and energetic.
Sharing emotions while being surrounded by such people swept other people into their emotions.
After drinking the Paramal, it came naturally as one spent the time dancing in middle of the street with hundreds or thousands of people tightly packing the place.
I spent my entire life wondering about the insides of people and learned manners.
A thin wall always existed, even between friends or between parents and children.
Shattering such walls, I was facing innocent strangers. I was being overcome with heartfelt emotions.
Also, my emotions were resonating with them.
This feeling, this emotion was… Its pleasure was truly incredible.
I could feel kind, good emotions from the strangers as they were. I was overcome by emotions. The others, who felt my goodness and innocence, also were also overcome by emotions.
How difficult is it to find one good true friend who you can really trust?
Also, how amazing is it when you find such a friend and spend time with one?
In AoAeo island, everyone I met were friends and families who could show themselves as they really were.
I had no need to be suspicious of others. There was no need for anxiety or drawing lines and putting up manners.
I had no need to be evil.
I had no need to be tough or extreme.
I just needed to indulge in the bliss, put away all worries and enjoy the festivities.
This was the prize of tourism in AoAeo island. Perhaps it was something unique to just the AoAeo island, not found in any other place in this continent or perhaps the world.
Paramal was a drink that could turn me into an angel among other angels.
In other words, it was a drink that led me to the heaven.
I saw Hyang who was greeting me. I was glad to see her. I also felt anticipant and excited.
I had something I wanted to ask her today.
“Ho, it seems like you have something you are curious about.”
“Yes, can you give me some time today?”
Of course she had.
There was no way she was going to refuse.
Hyang smiled and responded. She sat across me.
“I want to ask you about the Paramal.”
“Um… Don’t you know well about Paramel now?”
“Yes, but I want to know about it a little more in detail.